Spring Skiing Tips from Olympic Skier Stacey Cook

by  Blane Bachelor | Apr 25, 2013
Skier in Aspen, CO
Skier in Aspen, CO / iStock

Temperatures may be getting warmer, but there’s still plenty of time to hit the slopes before putting your gear away for the season. Spring skiing is in full swing at several U.S. ski resorts, including Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California, which is offering some great spring deals, as well as a women’s only, ski-and-yoga weekend called Chix on Stix led by Olympic skier Stacey Cook. I sat down with Cook, who also happens to be a Mammoth-area native, and found out her top spring skiing tips – and why you shouldn't break out the bikini, no matter how warm it gets.

What do you love about spring skiing?
"It’s just one of my favorite times of year. My competitive season is over, so there’s a very relaxed feeling. It’s a lot less stressed and a lot more fun. And I associate that with the skiing as well."

Let’s clear up some basic terminology of spring skiing: corn. Can you explain exactly this is for those who may not know?
"Corn happens through the constant melting and refreezing of snow crystals, and that makes the snow really round and forgiving. It makes it like skiing over a pillow because your skis just roll right over it."

Why is spring such a good time for newbies to learn?
"One of the worst parts of our sport is the cold and the weather. In the spring, it’s very consistently warm weather, especially in California. It’s kind of like you’re on the beach...on a mountain, and that makes it fun. Even if you don’t like the skiing, you can’t help but enjoy the surroundings. Plus, a greater range of skis work on corn snow. It’s a surface that’s easy on everyone’s equipment."

Do you have any specific tips on how, if at all, you should change your technique for spring skiing?
"It’s no different than wintertime, but because the snow is more forgiving, it’s a great time to push your limits. Go up onto the steeper slopes – the snow will be easier for you to handle. Experience the things you may be a little bit hesitant to do in the winter."

Bikinis on the slopes – a spring skiing do or don't?
"It’s a really, really bad idea. It sounds like a good one, until someone crashes in a bikini and has their entire upper body covered in raspberries. You just want to have one layer on. It doesn't have to be much, just enough to cover the skin."

Any other tips on how to properly dress for spring skiing?  
"There’s generally a big change in temperature between the bottom of the mountain and the top, so you have to dress for the coldest temperature on the mountain, not the warmest. In the spring, I generally break out a windbreaker or a soft shell jacket. You just need something that’s long-sleeved and will stay on your wrists. And don’t forget the sunblock, especially in the high elevations in California."

Where’s your favorite spot for après ski?
"Anywhere your friends are, really. It’s your friends who make après."

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